The top 12 sake bars and restaurants in Toronto
Sake in Toronto used to be a rare find. Then along came the Guus, the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company and a parade of izakayas. Even the LCBO got into the act and started stocking up. Of course, the logical next step is the emergence of the sake based cocktail into the local bar scene. We're not quite there yet, but to introduce this list of the top spots in Toronto to partake in Japan's national beverage of choice I thought I'll tell you what to drink when you get there.
Here's a list of some of 12 Toronto bars and restaurants that know their sake and the sake cocktail that just might make them famous. Kanpai!
Nikai, the second floor cocktail lounge at Momofuku's University Avenue address, mixes up dangerously-easy-to-drink Momoiro Sours with Izumi (spring water) sake, shiso, rosemary and lime.
Guu's two downtown locations mix up Sake Mojitos which are a spin on the Cuban highball standard made with muddled mint and topped with sake, plum wine and a splash of Ramune (a house made Japanese soda).
This Japanese Rockabilly bar situated in Brockton Village is well known for its selection of sake based cocktails. Try the Rising Sun, a tart lime and sake-based drink that's sweet finish is owed to maraschino cherries and syrup a the bottom.
This modern Japanese restaurant on Richmond offers a couple sake-base cocktails such as the Railroad Man - a frothy refreshment made with sake, Cointreau, lemon, egg whites and sweetened with simple syrup
Blowfish on Bay
This splurge sushi spot boasts a pair of downtown locations that do up 5oz sake sangrias in flavours like watermelon mint which is made with sake, Torrontés, prosecco, fresh mint and fresh juices. Alternatively, try the Cherry Cherry with sake, shiraz, creme de cassis, prosecco, mint, lime and cherry juice.
Maru & Maru
The Sakelini, a sake version of a Bellini, at this Willowdale restaurant combines the delicate rice-based wine with mango nectar that's then finished with a splash of bubbly.
Susur Lee's flagship restaurant on King West is well loved for its unique cocktails. The Saketini is a classic that starts with Moonstone plum sake and Tozai Living Jewel Junmai Sake (one of the purest grades of sake around) plus Belvedere vodka, yuzu juice and flower petals to finish.
This College Street ramen and izakaya spot offers a fresh take on the Canadian classic. Their Sake Caesar blends sake with Clamato and spices for a savoury bevy.
Mixologist Atsushi Suzuki custom crafts the drink menu at this Parkdale spot. The Kanji-Groni is one such original refreshment that combines Oyama plum wine with chilled once-pasteurized, Izumi Nama Cho Sake, Campari and pear nectar to finish.
Situated in Koreatown North, this Japanese pub is a prime spot of late night drinks and late night eats. The popular Yuzu Sour sees the house sake mixed with yuzu and lemon juice and sweetened (just slightly) with simple syrup.
This modern Japanese restaurant and bar in the Financial District sells something called the Kyushu Cosmo which is a martini that mixes Tanaka Moonlight shochu and Moonstone plum sake with tart cranberry, freshly squeeze lime and a dusting of li hing mui, a salty dried plum.
The Toronto outpost of this Vancouver izakaya chain does a Pear Sake Cocktail - a 2oz pear-infused sake cocktail with Absolut Pear vodka, Triple Sec and fragrant lemongrass.
Ontario Spring Water Sake Company
Not a bar or a restaurant but an actual sake brewery, this Distillery District spot is the source for many of the fresh pressed sakes on this list. The brewer offers various bottles of sake to take home as well as an array of mixed drinks like the Sakepolitan, a rice wine-based twist on the classic pink drink made with fine lees (sediment), cranberry juice and Sprite.